ecause cassoulet is a labor of love, it is best to share it with friends or family. This rich dish of beans and preserved meats is always made in large batches, which makes it ideal for entertaining. Cassoulet is simpler than it looks to prepare; it just takes time for all the flavors to mingle. Read on for preparation tips and a deeper understanding of this foodie favorite.
What is Cassoulet?
Cassoulet is dish with peasant origins that uses all kinds of scraps, sausages and preserved meats. These meats are cooked for hours with white beans, so cassoulet is essentially French chili (but don't mention that around a French person!).
The dish originated in Southwest France and was named for the cassole, a clay dish with sloped sides, in which it is traditionally cooked. But you can make a splendid cassoulet in any large, heavy pot or deep baking dish. The recipe is much debated, as each town has a variation that is claimed to be the one true version of cassoulet. At D'Artagnan we offer a convenient cassoulet kit which has nearly all the ingredients you will need.
7 Steps to Cassoulet Victory
1. Get your D'Artagnan Cassoulet Kit, which includes all the key ingredients (it's even available with a clay bowl for cooking).
2. Go to the grocery store for a few things: onions, garlic, carrots, chicken stock (if you don't make your own) and herbs for your bouquet garni.
3. Stock up on hearty red wine.
4. Plan ahead! Allow two days for cooking the cassoulet (you have to soak the beans overnight).
5. Keep your cooked cassoulet (after it has cooled) in the refrigerator until the day of the party.
6. Reheat and serve cassoulet while still piping hot.
7. You don't need to serve anything else. Perhaps a light salad on the side. But the wine is most important.
Wine with Cassoulet
In France it would not be possible to eat cassoulet without a bottle of red wine to accompany it. Of course, when hosting a cassoulet feast it's more realistic to fortify with multiple bottles.
Madiran or Malbec make perfect pairing choices with hearty cassoulet. Look for the appellation Cahors, which is an area of Southwest France that produces such dark wines that they are often called "black wine." If you cannot find Cahors, settle on a fine Argentine Malbec. These heavy red wines are tannin-rich, typical of the region, and are bold enough to stand up to the rich flavors of cassoulet.
Hungry for more? If you are truly fascinated by cassoulet, check out our history of cassoulet article and watch our video with Ariane and Chef Pierre Landet sharing tips on how to cook cassoulet.